It’s Friday morning and my head hurts.
Nothing warranting a delve into the top drawer to fish a Nurofen out of the nest of plastic flags, VCAT copy cards and bulldog clips.
Just the usual not enough water after last night’s fishbowl of hearty red, pre-coffee thud. Easily fixed.
A jaunt down to level 40 with my cup that is emblazoned with the Firm’s insignia, hopefully in time to cross paths with that delicious specimen from Planning & Environment. Mmmm. Much better.
The Firm has coffee machines on every level to conserve precious billable minutes spent queuing downstairs. I have two or three a day, which is quite moderate by Firm standards.
It is one thing to stay awake for 10 hours, but another to be working with the degree of mental clarity required to continually produce billable units.
That is where caffeine comes in, not to speak of the social suicide of ordering a decaffeinated long black at a client conference, breakfast meeting or catch-up with your mentor.
When I came back from a week’s leave after camping sans coffee for a week, I didn’t get the headaches and thought I would give the caffeine-free gig a whirl at work.
So bizarre. It was like being at party without a drink – physically present but not really there. So I started again. It gives a nice structure to my day.
Alcohol plays an equally large role in modern life at the Firm.
I am yet to master the ability to work productively after a long client lunch.
I’m not a one-pot screamer – far from it. I strongly believe the only reason the Firm hired me is because I was the only potential articled clerk still standing at the end of a four-hour recruitment cocktail party.
Yet I’m buggered if I can come up with anything coherent after a vino or two at lunch.
Every time I’m invited to such an affair I promise myself that I’ll spin a story about detoxing, abstain and not fall asleep in the afternoon.
But the wine is so yummy – much nicer than anything I’d drink at home on my articled clerk salary – so I have a glass (just a glass) and then the waiters are so quick to top it up and then … nap time.
One of the other female ACs, Ruby, who is petite and Chinese and fares even worse than me after a glass of the good stuff, invents mythical stomach bugs or courses of antibiotics to warrant sticking to the mineral water at lunches, meetings and Firm drinks.
She really liked her rotation in the construction group (which is as blokey and beery as it gets) and would like to return there next year but fears her abstinence will be a fatal flaw.
The resemblance of Firm life to Huxley’s Brave New World with its various somas (and plethora of gammas) is striking. But what to do?
Other than drink to that thought.